Editorial: To honor his legacy, live Dr. Martin Luther King's words

Celebrations of Martin Luther King Jr. Day this weekend are muted across the country.

A new wave of COVID-19 infections and deaths due to the omicron variant has limited many gatherings to a handful of attendees, or events were canceled altogether.

Dalton traditionally has a robust Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration spanning several days. In the past, for example, events kicked off on Saturday and continued through Monday night. The events were diverse, from a 3-point basketball shooting competition to a Saturday night banquet featuring a guest speaker to the annual wreath laying at the monument honoring King, a Baptist minister who in the 1950s and 1960s became a driving force in the civil rights movement.

But this year, all but one of these events was postponed. On Monday at 9 a.m., the public is invited to celebrate the life and legacy of King through a ceremony at the Martin Luther King Jr. monument at the corner of Walnut Avenue and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

In the absence of many public events, we wish to remember some of King's words that stirred a nation and changed the course of history through peaceful, nonviolent protests.

• "In a sense we've come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the 'unalienable Rights' of 'Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.' It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked 'insufficient funds.'

"But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we've come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice." -- "I Have a Dream" speech

• "There is nothing in all the world greater than freedom. It is worth paying for; it is worth losing a job; it is worth going to jail for. I would rather be a free pauper than a rich slave. I would rather die in abject poverty with my convictions than live in inordinate riches with the lack of self-respect. Once more every Negro must be able to cry out with his forefathers: 'Before I'll be a slave, I'll be buried in my grave and go home to my Father and be saved.'" -- "Facing the Challenge of a New Age"

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